Irish Independent

With an incredibly high standard of
interior design thinking in Ireland
today, Nuala Ryan recognises
some of the great home grown
talents and gets their top tips on
home renovations
nterior designer Maria MacVeigh
typifies the incredible level of
excellent design thinking in Irish
design today. Having been shortlisted, highly commended and winner at
last year’s Institute of Designers in
Ireland (IDI) awards for her work on
three separate projects, Maria is a force
to be reckoned with in national and
international interior design.
Maria qualified with a degree in
Interior Design from DIT before moving
to Barcelona immediately after qualifying to work. Having spent 13 years
abroad, she returned to Ireland six years
ago to set up her own practice.
Maria undertakes both commercial
and domestic work, and approaches
each project with a firm understanding
of her client’s requirements. She takes
time to meet with each prospective
client, showing them her incredible body
of work and explaining how the practice
works. These discussions determine
whether the practice will be suitable for
the client’s needs and, if so, the project
can begin to move forward with foundations laid for a successful venture.
To date, Maria has worked on such
commercial projects as the redesigning
of top chef Ross Lewis’s Chapter One
restaurant and Chefs Table in Dublin, a
project that she particularly enjoyed, and
that was shortlisted for an IDI award.
According to Maria, each project has
its own narrative.
“Nearly all the work that I do is in the
refurbishment of old or existing buildings and all projects offer various opportunities for redevelopment. Finding out
what this is can be as much a surprise
for me as for my clients, but I really
enjoy this process of understanding the
existing building in order to bring it to a
new stage in its life.”
Most of Maria’s projects have required
an extension of the existing space, which
she has also designed. She works closely
with engineer David Maher, developing
and detailing the finished project to
ensure that a thorough service is delivered to the client.
So, what advice would Maria give to
anyone thinking of renovating his or her
“Appointing the professional most
suitable for the job is the beginning and
end of a good project. Search through
magazines and the IDI’s website
( for listings of designers. And remember that professionals
are very happy to meet you and show
you what they do in order to help you
make an informed judgment.”
Maria’s recent work on a Mews house in
Dublin won her a 2009 IDI award. Her
work on the restoration and renovation
of an Edwardian house in Sandycove
was highly commended at this same
award ceremony. Visit www.maria for further details.
Project by Maria MacVeigh, photography by Barbara Corsico
ormer art and design teacher
Maria Fenlon started up her interior design business in 2002, specialising in creating functional,
comfortable and stylish homes that perfectly suit the owner’s lifestyle and
needs. By helping clients to focus on
their preferred style, Maria designs a
living space that will best suit this style.
According to Maria, design is all
about newness, innovation and creativity. Research and product sourcing are
a very important part of this process
and Maria spends a lot of time abroad
researching new designs. However,
even though new trends are an exciting part of the business, Maria is a
firm believer in the timeless quality of
classic designs that will always retain
their elegance and beauty.
At the end of the day, however, it is
the client’s home and so it is important
to listen to the client’s needs and ideas
before offering expert advice.
“Even improving storage space in the
home can make a huge difference to
people’s lives. We cater for their needs,
help them to identify their preferred
style and work to create a unique and
seamless finished interior.
“Seeing how my designs impact on
my client’s quality of life is definitely one
of the most rewarding parts of the job.”
For anyone thinking of renovating
their home, Maria recommends you start
out by looking at the structure and space
of the room and list all the needs for the
space. “See if the space is being fully
utilised,” Maria advises. “It’s amazing
how many rooms in people’s homes can
look like separate spaces. You should
think about how to link the room to the
rest of the house and best use the space
and the light.”
Maria recommends you next consider
what storage space is required, as well as
your living needs, and how you plan to
accommodate these. Think about the
style of the room and how you might
carry this style throughout the house. If
you can achieve a unified look throughout your home, you can make it feel bigger and more organised.
Using her background in sculpture
and model making, Maria provides her
clients with a 3D model-making facility.
This has proven to be a very useful tool
in helping clients and builders to visualise the space they are working with,
which in turn saves time and prevents
people from making expensive design
Maria was recently commended at the
IDI awards for her work on The Mill
House in Carlow, a magnificent and traditional thatched structure with working wheel on the banks of the River
Slaney. Visit for
further information on her work and